Federal Housing Expenditures Poorly
Correlate with Housing Needs
The National Housing Trust Fund and reform of the mortgage interest deduction (MID) were topics of discussion at two hearings on housing held in the U.S. House of Representatives.
During the October 21, 2015 hearing in the Housing and Insurance Subcommittee of the House Financial Services Committee, Representative Keith Ellison (D-MN) shared a chart from a December 2013 Center on Budget and Policy Priorities (CBPP) report that showed how federal housing expenditures poorly correlate with housing needs.
“High income households get four times more housing benefits than low income households do.”
Mr. Ellison said.
Mr. Ellison is the lead sponsor of H.R. 1662, the “Common Sense Housing Investment Act.” This bill would modify the country’s largest housing expenditure, the mortgage interest deduction, and shift resulting resources into affordable housing programs including the National Housing Trust Fund.
At the full Committee hearing on October 22, 2015 Xavier de Sousa Briggs of the Ford Foundation pointed out that, through the mortgage interest deduction, most federal housing aid is targeted to the middle class and affluent, “rather than the very low-income households who face the most daunting housing costs and consequences.”
Representative Ellison stated that the US spends over $270 billion on housing, but that most of that money does not go to poor families.
“The bulk of the investment benefits the most financially well-off. Because of all of the tax benefits for home ownership, [including] the mortgage interest deduction, in general, upper income homeowners receive the greater benefit than do the low income renters. And why is all this focus on trying to shrink the small pie we already have for low income people trying to find a leg up in this system?”